Thursday, August 11, 2005

North Korea: Energy Security - Progress via Energy Aid?

almost empty streets at 5pm in Pyongyang in 2002

BBC News reported last month that South Korea has offered 2,000MW (2 Gigawatts) of free electricity to North Korea as an incentive to end its nuclear ambitions.

Seoul is proposing to lay power lines across the Korean border, as an alternative to a US-brokered nuclear power deal which collapsed in 2002.

Seoul is worried that if the North were to collapse, it could be flooded with millions of hungry North Korean refugees.

South Korea is one of the largest single donors of aid to the secretive communist state. It is the South's biggest donation to the North since 2000.

The UN World Food Programme is currently feeding some 6.5m North Koreans - nearly a third of the population.

The offer came as diplomats prepared to resume six-nation talks on the North's nuclear programme.

South Korean Unification Minister Chung Dong-young told a news conference that the power proposal would supply the same amount of electricity that the North would have received if two light-water reactors being built by an international consortium in the 1990s had been completed.

That deal, known as the Agreed Framework, collapsed after Pyongyang allegedly admitted to the US in 2002 that it had a secret, enriched uranium programme.

The proposed power lines would provide the North with 2m kilowatts of electricity a year from South Korea's own power grid, and would be ready by 2008.

The power being offered is equivalent to the output of two large power stations and would help towards redressing North Korea's serious energy shortage.

The BBC's Charles Scanlon in Seoul says the South Korean government has since seized the initiative, fearing that the confrontation between Pyongyang and Washington could escalate.

This may set an interesting precedent for other states with nuclear ambitions for power stations, if not nuclear weapons. Security of energy supply seems set to be an increasing area of conflict between nations although it doesn't have to be. There is an opportunity for the more technologically advanced nations to speed the transfer of the latest and cleanest power generation technology to developing nations and to cooperate in the development and utilisation of clean renewable energy.

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Alternative Energy Blog is One

It's been one year. I'd like to thank in no clear order...

Jamais Cascio and everyone else from the excellent group blog World Changing for advice, encouragement and inspiration. The Engineer Poet for both his contributions in the comments section of this blog and the posts on his own blog. Sterling D. Allan of Free Energy News. City Comforts, Dr. Menlo, Andy Darvill, Knowledge Problem, Triple Pundit, Rebecca Blood, Liberal Oasis, Curt Rosengren, Gristmill, Trends I'm Watching, Asian Security, The Adventuress, Swerve Left, EnviroPundit, Myke, Okiedoke, Sustainablog, Alternative Energy Stocks, David's Brain, Safety Neal, Joel Makower, Ian McGibboney, Dustbury, Howling at a Waning Moon, Grandinite, Concerned Scientist, CirKits, How to Save the World, Renewable Energy Law Blog, Jeff Vail, Winding Road, City Hippy, Mike Capone, Adventures in Ethical Consumerism, Posthuman Blues, The Future is Green, NYPD Jew, Where We are Bound, AEMan, Jozet, groupThink, Enviroman, Future Hi, NPI, Hippy Shopper, Obsidian Wings, American Samizdat, FutureWire, Dirty Greek, Italian Version, We Saw a Chicken, Skeptacles, Pardue Duran, Entropy Production, Funny Farm, Suburban Treehugger, Amor Mundi.

John Atkinson for his great energy roundups on the Winds of Change blog. Justin at the efficiency blog Metaefficent. The Peak Oil bloggers - Mobjectivist, Culture Change, Peak Energy, Post1, Kurt Cobb, The Fraser Domain, Flying Talking Donkey, and the Peak Oil Optimist. Fred Wilson whose blog put me on to a number of great blogging tools and services when I was first starting.

And finally Jason Calacanis for the original impetus to start the blog.

Thanks to everyone that reads the Alternative Energy Blog, everyone I've unintentionally missed out and special thanks to anyone who leaves comments or has emailed ideas for posts. Links to the Alternative Energy Blog are always welcome and the discussion in the comments section is what keeps me blogging.

As you can see from the list above supporters of alternative energy are diverse and many. Conservatives, liberals and those that defy categorisation. Socialists and venture capitalists. Those favouring government support and those in favour of free market approaches.

It remains my opinion that promoting alternative energy is far too important to be a partisan issue. Moving to a clean renewable post fossil fuel future is a long term project, one I am committed to. I hope this blog will continue to raise awareness and provoke discussion of our energy future.